Grace and the New Year

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 ESV).

New Year’s Eve is tomorrow. There are all kinds of traditions practiced to observe the changing of the calendar. In New York the “ball” will drop and thousands of people crowded in Times Square will cheer as fireworks light the sky. In Nashville we have our own tradition. We won’t have a Waterford Crystal ball drop; we will have a musical cleft drop from the tower. Obviously it will be in keeping with the name of “Music City” that provides that theme. There are hundreds of others traditions around the world that will be repeated. All of them have one thing in common. People are celebrating the passing of the old year in favor of the new.

Our reading today is a part of a sermon from the Apostle Paul. He makes a bold assertion that he is what he is “by the grace of God.” I recently read a wonderful quote from John Piper that focuses on this grace that transforms:

Grace is not only God’s disposition to do good for us when we don’t deserve it. It is an actual power from God that acts and makes good things happen in us and for us. This grace is past and it is future. It is ever cascading over the infinitesimal waterfall of the present from the inexhaustible river of grace coming to us from the future into the ever-increasing reservoir of grace in the past.

 It took me a while to really understand what he meant by the “reservoir of grace in the past.” While the future has yet to be revealed, we know with certainty what the past was. Paul reminds us that as he reflects on his past, nothing short of the grace of God could have changed his life. Knowing that God was then capable becomes the reason for his faith that God will be capable in the future.

You may be reflecting over the past year with mixed emotions. Perhaps some of it was filled with challenge and failure. Even then the grace of God was working in you for your ultimate good. I remarked recently that I did not want a repeat of 2014. I had two major surgeries that I will not miss if I don’t need to repeat them! But, was not God working in those times just as much as he was working in the birth of our granddaughter, Maggie? One experience was full of challenge, the other full of joy and celebration; and, all of it full of grace. I will celebrate the New Year. However, my hope is that it will merely be a celebration of what God has done and will continue to do because of the grace he has extended in Christ! The reservoir is full. There is no fear that we will not have more than we need for all the tomorrows before us!